Top 10 of 2015: Unique holiday songs to celebrate the season
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Tired of the same old songs being played on the radio during the holiday season? Are you sick of listening to awful karaoke singing of Mariah Carey’s #1 hit “All I Want For Christmas Is You”? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, then you have stumbled across the essential guide to surviving the holiday season without ear-ritation.
To qualify as an entry on this list, each song must meet the following criteria:
- Released in the year 2015
- No covers of popular Christmas songs, (ex. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”)
- Only one song per artist
Even though I filtered my search quite a bit, I had the displeasure of listening to some downright awful holiday tunes. Luckily, I discovered 10 holiday jams that are worthy to play while rocking around the Christmas tree.
Album- That’s Christmas To Me
Released- October 30 2015
This mellow acapella track is the perfect song to get into the Christmas spirit. With its heartwarming lyrics, it can thaw even the coldest of hearts. However, this is song isn’t very energetic so it’s not a must for holiday parties.
Released- November 25 2015
The original version of this track was released by Stevie Wonder on November 27, 1967. A reissue of this track with the additional vocals of Andra Day has gained popularity because of a catchy Apple commercial. To me, this new version lacks the childlike hope of the original. In 1967, Wonder’s lyrics conveyed his hope that if the Vietnam War ended, world peace could be achieved. It’s a shame to hear in the vocal delivery of the reissue that Wonder’s original song has been tainted by reality.
Album- Magnolias & Mistletoe
Released- November 6 2015
This southern soul track mourns the possibility of not being home to spend Christmas family. Lyrically, it reminds me of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” by Bing Crosby but without the demands for presents and mistletoe. In my opinion, “Almost Christmas” is a much more humble and less superficial alternative to Crosby’s hit.
Released- November 30 2015
Usually any song by Michael Bublé is vomit-inducing because of his sickeningly sweet lyrics. However, this song instills warm and fuzzy feelings that aren’t unwelcome. It’s refreshing to hear a song about giving gifts during the time of year when many are is most concerned about the opposite.
Album- Merry & Bright
Released- November 6 2015
Considering that Linganore has our very own Lancer Candy Lane, I thought this would be an appropriate selection for the list. All of the songs on The Ellas’ debut album Merry & Bright are completely original and an absolute joy to listen to. Their festive tunes can be described as a combination of jazz and swing with tight three part harmonies. “Candy Cane Lane” in particular features some clever wordplay in the lyrics. The line “Just a couple licks from the minty sugar stick and everything turns wintergreen,” is one of my favorites from the song.
Released- December 1 2015
Chances are that the first thing that comes to mind when you hear The Killers is their number #1 hit “Mr. Brightside;” however, this alternative rock group is far from a one hit wonder. In the past ten years of their music career, they have released exceptional music and created a tradition to release at least one original Christmas song per year. 100% of the proceeds from each Christmas song goes to the charity RED that helps to fight aids. This year’s Christmas song “Dirt Sledding” is a goofy ode to those who have a burning animosity towards Santa Claus. The wacky music video with candy cane firecrackers, dancing turkeys, teeth, and pumpkins adds to the whimsical nature of this year’s holiday track.
Album- It’s A Holiday Soul Party
Released- October 30 2015
Technically Hanukkah ended on Monday, December 14th, but the joy of the season isn’t over yet. There’s still time to listen to this groovy soul-funk tune! This song captures the essence of 1970s funk music so well that I had to double check to make sure that this track wasn’t a reissue. The lyrics touch on all major topics regarding Hanukkah including lighting candles, dreidels, thimbles, and latkes. Prior to “8 Days Of Hanukkah,” the closest to a modern Hanukkah song was Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song. I’d say that this new song is a major improvement.
Album- The Songs The Season Brings
Released- November 17 2015
This track opens with fast paced banjos accompanied by a dreary piano. Oddly contemplative lyrics are then added to the mix to create quite an unusual holiday folk song. The meaning of this song can be can be best understood by examining these lyrics at the beginning of the song that say, “On the winter solstice, the moon was eclipsed in my heart, I’ll remain there. Oh, red moon recede in your cocoon for a moment, I’ll remain there.” These lyrics contribute to his sad serenade that portrays his feelings of guilt because he can’t be happy during the holiday season, like everyone else. Overall, this isn’t a very uplifting song. Regardless, it is thought provoking since many of the lyrics are still a mystery to me.
Album- MercyMe, It’s Christmas!
Released- October 9 2015
Immediately, this song won my heart when the lyrics mentioned the legendary Nat King Cole. One of the only holiday albums I enjoy is “The Christmas Album” by Nat King Cole, which is why I was elated to hear it referenced. Looking past the reference, this song is energetic and relatable because it talks about how the holidays have a tendency to sneak up on us amidst this busy season. The chorus simply says, “I can’t believe it’s Christmastime again.” This line has been my mantra recently considering how incredibly unprepared I am for the holidays.
Album- Rockin’ Rudolph
Released- October 16 2015
When I was a child I remember watching cartoons every Saturday morning. My favorite cartoon was The Flintstones, and I loved the theme song from the show just as much. When I heard that a holiday remake of this iconic theme song existed, I was skeptical. However, once I heard the song, I was overwhelmed by a wave of nostalgia. This energetic jam breathes new life into a classic theme song that was forgotten in time.